Clippers on brink of playoff elimination after losing Game 5 to Mavericks

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The winner of Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round series Wednesday night was going to be one step away from advancing. The loser of Game 5 of this best-of-seven series was going to be one step away from elimination.

The Clippers are close to seeing their season come to an end following a humbling 123-93 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night at Arena.

A severe third-quarter drought put the Clippers in a 25-point hole and their season edged toward the brink in the process. When that hole got deeper with a 32-point deficit in the fourth, the Clippers were on their way to trailing the series 3-2.

“We just didn’t play well, all-around,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said. “Defensively, offensively, we just didn’t play a good game.

“So, that’s ok. Turn the page. You still have to win four games and we know we can win on their floor. We’ve shown that in the past two playoff series, We was down 3-2 the first time we played them. So, we didn’t play our best game and we understand that. I think we understand that collectively. And, so, we’ll be better for Game 6.”

Game 6 is Friday night in Dallas, the same site where the Clippers won Game 4 on Sunday to tie the series at 2-2. So, it’s a must-win for the Clippers, who have said that there is no timetable for Kawhi Leonard to return from the inflammation in his right knee that has kept him out of three of the five games.

“It’s Game 5 and we lost by 30, whatever,” said Ivica Zubac, who had 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting and 6 rebounds. “We got to be better. We got to be better because the next game is win or go home. So, it’s not easy to forget it, but that’s what we got to do. We got to be better. We got to be desperate. We got to play like we’re going home if we don’t win. That’s it.”

They never got a handle on Luka Doncic, who had his way while scoring 35 points on 14-for-26 shooting, with 10 assists and seven rebounds.

Doncic entered the game laboring, playing with a sprained right knee. He was coughing and congested during practice Tuesday. But despite all that, he was a force to be reckoned with for the Clippers.

“We knew at some point Luka was going to have a Luka game,” Lue said.

A grimy, offensively challenged effort by the Clippers combined with a defensive-oriented game by Dallas left L.A. in a bind all game.

The Clippers shot just 33.3% from the field in the third quarter, including 30% (three of 10) from three-point range. Conversely, the Mavericks torched the Clippers in that frame, making 63.2% of their shots, 44.4% of their threes.

For the game, the Clippers shot 37.9% from the field and 25.7% from three-point range.

Paul George was four-for-13 shooting from the field for 15 points.

“I think at the start I could have done a better job making plays, taking what the defense gave me,” George said. “There was a lot of opportunities for kick-outs that I missed that I thought we could have took advantage of.”

James Harden was two-for-12 from the field and one-for-seven from three-point range for seven points. As he walked down the hallway after the game, James was asked if he was coming to the podium to speak with the media.

“No,” he mouthed.

Russell Westbrook was two-for-11 shooting from the field for six points. Amir Coffey and Mason Plumlee both shot one for six from the field for three points.

It was that kind of night for the Clippers.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we didn’t play well either,” Lue said. “So, it kind of goes hand in hand. We didn’t do the right things. We didn’t play the right style of basketball like we did in Dallas. And, so, we understand that and we just got to be better.”

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